Made in China may not raise eyebrows any more, but a batch of 49 Indian students who landed in Xingxian University in Henan in pursuit of a cheap MBBS found themselves in the middle of an unenviable mess.
The promised English speaking faculty was conspicuous by its absence and the entire lot had only one teacher for biochemistry.
The students repeated complaints to the University along with nine Nepalese who were similarly conned fell on deaf ears.
They were asked to contact Sunil Sharma, an agent who sent students to China. Not surprisingly, by then the agent could not be contacted. Hoping for succour, the students then wrote to the Indian embassy in Beijing.
A copy of their complaint outlines the lack of faculty and a near total absence of facilities. In the past three years, the number of such universities has gone from one to 23.
Fifteen universities have entered the market this year itself. There are 350 students at Hebei University. Xingxian too has almost the same number. Though there are no official figures, there may be almost a thousand students there (in China), said an agent.
Welcome to a nightmare called a Chinese MBBS. Following an amendment to the Medical Council of India Act in 2002 which recognises qualifications set out by the government of the country where the institution is situated, enterprising agents in India and Nepal hit upon a get-rich-quick formula. They enter into a contract with interested universities which provide them the information about the schools. Teachers, websites and even brochures are all managed by these agents. There are no ads in the papers for these faculties. Most of them are people who havent been able to clear the MCI screening test after an MBBS from Russia, said an educational consultant.
Like cheap Chinese electronic goods, the USP here is also the cost. As opposed to private universities in India which may charge as much as Rs 20 lakh, an MBBS in China comes for between Rs 4 lakh-Rs 15 lakh.
The agent pockets Rs 1 lakh as commission and the remaining amount is shared between the university and the agents. Other than not providing the requisite infrastructure, what these agents conveniently gloss over is that at most of these universities traditional Chinese medicine constitutes a major chunk of the syllabus.
Traditional Chinese medicine has no application in India. After we realised this, we have just done away with that in brochures, said another agent.
While agents advertise these universities as WHO recognised, the organisation makes it clear that it has no authority to grant any form of such recognition and merely collates information from various governments. Language can be another hurdle as within three years time, students are required to take the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) language test and the script can be more than challenging.